My DH and I were excited about the upcoming birth of our first child. I am a strong proponent of natural childbirth, and we both attended the full series of Bradley childbirth classes. After much deliberation, we decided to have the baby at a hospital because we live out in the country - would not be able to make the "30 minutes decision to incision" if needed. We also hired a doula - the best decision we made! I agreed to just one prenatal test - the 20 week ultrasound. It showed a "two vessel cord" - just one umbilical artery going to the baby instead of the usual two. According to the doctors, it is associated with a high percentage of birth defects, and only 1% of births have it. Needless to say, it injected a feeling of fear that I didn't want associated with the pregnancy and birth. I worked on my positive visualizations instead.
I was due on May 23rd. On June 2nd at 2 in the afternoon I started with Braxton-Hicks contractions every 8 minutes apart. We were at a Thai restauant, so I didn't say anything and just enjoyed a great meal. I've had BH since about 26 weeks, so I wasn't about to get excited this time. They continued all afternoon and evening, progressing until they were 6 minutes apart.
My DH and I went to bed at 11 pm, and after snuggling a bit he went to sleep. My contractions suddenly kicked into a very different gear - they were much more intense, more crampy than a period. They were also 2 minutes apart! After 20 minutes of relaxation and breathing, I woke DH so he could help me with the relaxation. I was confused - the books never said anything about contractions starting at 2 minutes! Maybe the baby would come fast? We called our doula - she suggested we stay home as long as possible, especially because I wasn't in that intense state yet.
We dealt with the contractions every two minutes lasting almost a minute all night long. DH was incredible - he seemed to know just what I needed; a backrub, talking, rubbing. At 5 am I started losing my confidence - who stays in 2-minute contractions for 6 hours? We called our OB and doula, and on their recommendation we went to the hospital to get checked. I was 90% effaced (hooray!) and 1 cm dilated (Oh! Only 1?). Baby's heartrate was 130. We went home.
I stayed in labor with contractions at 3-4 minutes apart all day. In the morning I soaked in our tub - it was so helpful I fell asleep in it for 1.5 hours! By the late afternoon the intensity changed again, and I was having trouble maintaining the relaxation needed. I started tensing up, having trouble dealing, getting tired, getting scared. We called the doula periodically to update her. My DH was wonderful - encouraging me to eat and drink frequently, using counterpressure on my sacrum. During the contractions my favorite position was standing, leaning my elbows on the counter, swaying my hips back and forth. I was committed to staying home as long as possible, because I believe that is the safest thing for all of us.
At 9 pm, I suddenly wanted to go to the hospital. I can't explain why. I had been in labor for 22 hours at this point, and was getting tired. I wanted the assistance that their Jacuzzi tub would offer. Once we got there, I found out I was 100% effaced, and (only!) 3 cm dilated. An initial electronic fetal monitor in required - it showed no problems, baby's heartrate of 130 again. I requested manual heartrate monitoring every thirty minutes instead of the EFM. I immediately hopped into the Jacuzzi - what a huge help! It really took the edge off my tension and allowed me to work through each contraction.
When the nurse came in for the first manual check, he found the baby's heartrate to be in the upper 50's. Immediately I was removed from the tub, the EFM was put back on. It confirmed the heartrate. My OB tried me in different positions - hands and knees, sidelying, etc. They couldn't get the baby to increase it's heartrate. My OB said, "There is something wrong with your baby, and I don't know what it is. I recommend an immediate C-section." I was so confused! Here I am having a natural birth, no drugs, and in the space of 5 minutes I'm facing an operation! I didn't want to undergo a needless operation, but a baby with the heartrate of 60 is scary. So, we agreed.
When they pulled Ryan out, he was hollering at the top of his lungs, pink, with Apgars of 9 and 9. There was a ripple of exclamations - "Two! I've never heard of two!" Apparently there were TWO knots in his umbilical cord which had tightened, cutting down on the blood that he was getting. He is fine, as perfect as can be! Only one person in the OR had ever seen two knots in a cord before. Has anyone on this forum heard of two knots? Just curious.
Ryan nursed in the recovery room 20 minutes later. He was alert, poking around licking and sucking. About 2 hours later we were trying to get some rest. It was so strange - all of a sudden we were a family, not just a couple. My DH was asleep in our queen-sized hospital bed, and Ryan was nestled in the crook of my arm.
Because of a physical cause of the two knots as well as the two-vessel cord, I believe that the C-section was necessary. Somehow, perhaps the universe knew that, and maybe that is why I didn't dilate more in the 24 hours, and why I suddenly insisted we go to the hospital. I am very thankful that we had a natural labor up to the point that he was in trouble. I believe that the lack of medications until the moment of the C-section was why he was so alert at birth. Although I totally expected to have a natural birth, and am disappointed a little, I have a perfect little boy!
Now, for the next child, I need to find a supportive VBAC team! Thank you for taking the time to read our story!
: DS - June '07 : DS2 - May '09 : (may be delayed a really long time!)